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Black Twilight Circle - Desert Dances and Serpent Sermons

Black Twilight Circle
Desert Dances and Serpent Sermons
by Danny Sanderson at 15 June 2016, 3:14 AM

The Black Twilight Circle is a collective of some of the best underground Black Metal bands in California. In a state that is saturated with plenty of great Black Metal acts, this small, secretive group came together with the aim of releasing some of the most progressive and interesting Black Metal that the Sunshine State has to offer. "Desert Dances and Serpent Sermons" brings together some of the most prominent musicians within this circle, and the resulting music is as memorable and eclectic as you can get.

VOLAHNs contribution to this split, "Chamalcan", is a great opening effort, combining cleaner guitar tones, rhythmic drumming with vicious and ferocious Black Metal. The opening motif of this track, interestingly enough, is quite different from your average Black Metal track, and has a strong SHADOWS influence, before descending into a much more aggressive, dissonant kind of Black Metal. It has plenty of turbulent moments, interlaced between more melody-tinged guitar hooks, with blood-curdling shrieks carving through the cacophonous mix and providing a dark and hideous edge to the diverse and progressive sounds of the music. SHATAANs contribution to this record, "Caminando del Destino/Desert Smoke/Wells Run Dry" incorporates flutes, dense bass lines and acoustic guitar hooks, giving this song a sound that, initially, is much closer to Occult Rock than Black Metal. As the shifts gears and becomes heavier, this overall feel remains, and although there's plenty of chaotic and powerful instrumentation and harsher vocals on display here, it manages to maintain a much more experimental, Folk inflected edge that works very well with the psychedelic guitar tones and impressive chanted vocal lines. It's a great track with plenty of ideas within it that keeps this near eleven minute long track interesting from the first note to the last.

ARIZMENDA provide a much heavier and vicious edge on their song, "Ropeburn Mutilation on the Outskirts of Life". This is a very dark, treble heavy piece of Depressive Black Metal, with savage vocals, jarring guitar hooks and a foreboding and shadowy atmosphere. It's a harrowing, monolithic track that contrasts perfectly with the more experimental affairs that opened this record. The fourth and final song sees KALLATHON close this record in a suitably eerie and monumental fashion. This is a song that blends cleaner guitar tones with ambience, a variety of different vocal styles, and strong and confidently performed rhythm sections, to create one of this records stand out offerings. It's a very solid and ferocious slab of Black Metal tinged with atmospherics that It has brooding, slow parts, impenetrably fast dirges and plenty of melodic guitar lines peppered throughout the track. It's an excellent song overall, and does a great job of closing this record on a high note.

"Desert Dances and Serpent Sermons" showcases some of the best musicians and widest range of great Black Metal music that the Californian underground has to offer. From the idiosyncratic offerings of SHATAAN and VOLAHN, through to the much more traditional musical ferocity of ARIZMENDA and KALLATHON, this is one of the most eclectic records I have heard in a while, covering a vast scope of differing sounds and styles.

4 Star Rating

1. VOLAHN- Chamalcan
2. SHATAAN- Caminando del Destino/Desert Smoke/Wells Run Dry
3. ARIZMENDA- Ropeburn Mutilation on the Outskirts of Life
4. KALLATHON- Walking into the Horizon, Burning into the Black Twilight

Volahn- All Instruments, Vocals


Volahn- Bass
Murdunbad- Drums
Shataan- Guitars, Flutes, Vocals


Murdunbad- All Instruments, Vocals


Volahn- Drums
Kallathon- Guitars, Bass, Vocals
Record Label: Crepulsculo Negro


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Edited 05 October 2022

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